A Dark Secret About Window Tint

by | Aug 10, 2010

In an opinion handed down by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, they reversed a conviction for Section 4524(e)(1) of the Motor Vehicle Code (Title 75) (relating to the prohibition of certain sun-screening material) where the police officer testified that he could see into the vehicle in the daytime even though window tint was present.

The Court of Common Pleas in this case held that the window tint present on the defendant’s vehicle was violative of Section 4524(e)(1) because it did not comply with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulations pertaining to the amount of light that can pass through tinted windows (67 Pa. Code Sec. 175.67(d)(4). However, the Superior Court reversed that decision, relying on the plain language of section 4524 (e)(1), because it did not incorporate the more stringent requirements of the departmental regulation.

Criminal defense attorneys should be aware of the very precise language of Section 4524(e)(1), which states “No person shall drive any motor vehicle with any sun screening device or other material which does not permit a person to see or view the inside of the vehicle through the windshield, side wing or side window of the vehicle.” Therefore, any testimony from a police officer that indicates he or she could see or view inside a car should result in an acquittal of this charge.

This decision can also be an important tool in motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence. For example, if an officer stops a car based on illegal window tint, but he or she can see or view the inside of the vehicle before the stop was made, there is no reasonable suspicion to believe that a violation of the motor vehicle code occurred.

Criminal attorneys, please let me know how this decision plays out in your practice.

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